Town council approved the submission for an expression of interest, which will ultimately be decided on by the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta (FRIAA).
If successful, the funding would see $30,000 come back to the local fire department for the spring exercise that in addition to Canmore Fire-Rescue would have Alberta Wildfire teams, crews from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Banff National Park, the Town of Banff, the MD of Bighorn and several utility agencies and partners work together.
“This work is a high interest in our community and with the experiences we had recently this summer with small wildfires, it has heightened the interest of our community to be sure our teams are well-trained, which they are thanks to regular exercises in training activities,” Mayor John Borrowman said.
“We are working together with regional partners because that’s what it’s going to take a regional exercise to address any wildfire we may be faced with.”
This past summer saw two wildfires in proximity of Canmore. In late July, a wildfire near Lac des Arcs had 4.4 hectares of forest consumed to get put under control. The wildfire had 46 Alberta Wildfire firefighters, six helicopters, a water truck and an air tanker respond.
In mid August, a roughly 10-hectare wildfire near Dead Man’s Flats took about four days before it was under control, with dozens of provincial firefighters and helicopters working to control the fire from spreading.
Throughout the summer, wildfires from British Columbia led to a high amount of smoke, which impacted air quality. Much of the summer also had the Calgary Forest Area – which the Bow Valley is part of – listed in a high or extreme risk for fire.
Canmore Fire-Rescue deputy fire chief Keri Martens told council the training exercise would help with inter-agency coordination, cross-training and test the Town’s emergency plans.
The field level exercise will be in the spring, with the grant request due in November and those selected chosen by December. The staff report stated Canmore Fire-Rescue has been successful in the past in receiving similar grants.
“It will also allow for multiple Town departments to work together, along with our neighbours and agency departments,” Martens said.
The exercise, which would be in the Larch area, would have the fire department communicate plans with the impacted regions. It will test the municipal emergency management plan, the structure protection plan and the evacuation plan, according to the report, as well as activating the incident command post and the emergency coordination centre.
“The goal is to test our plans and one of those being the evacuation exercise. We’d communicate heavily with that neighbourhood, let them know what’s coming, what the plans are and what our goals are.”